Just finished reading ‘The Lowland’ by Jhumpa Lahiri, my local book club title for February. Without giving details of the story, the setting is Calcutta (now called ‘Kolkata’), mainly during the beginnings of the ‘Naxalites’. One cultural tradition caught my attention – the use of colour for saris to denote a woman’s status, in particular the wearing of white upon widowhood.
Colour plays a role in all societies and meaning changes accordingly. Patchwork quilters are always playing with colour in their unique creations, – even when stitching the same pattern, the use of different colours appeals to different perspectives.
Sari blankets are summer quilts made from recycled saris by ‘the young women from the slums of Kolkata’ …who… ‘are empowered to begin to improve the quality of their lives’. (Tribes & Nations: Fair Trade Store & Resources – Empowering Lives) They use an allover running stitch called the ‘Kantha’ stitch, to stitch two or more layers of saris together, making reversible light weight cotton quilts.
So from old ‘Calcutta’ to modern ‘Kolkata’, linked by colour and cotton!